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Domestication Linked to Nervous System Genes in Inbred Mouse Strains

Investigators at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the International Society of Zoological Sciences, and other centers describe domestication-related genes and pathways in inbred mice for a paper in Genome Biology. With whole-genome sequencing on three dozen inbred mouse strains and as many wild mouse strains, the team tracked down 339 positively selected genes (PSGs), which were analyzed further with protein structure predictions and published transcriptome data on multiple mouse tissues. Along with enhanced brain tissue expression for roughly one-third of the genes, the authors saw an overall overrepresentation of nervous system-related genes in the PSG set as well as nervous system and/or behavioral shifts at least 125 previously described gene knockout mouse models. "The analysis shows [that] the positively-selected genes are closely associated with behavior and the nervous system in mice," the authors report, adding that findings from the current study "provide valuable cues for studying physiology and behaviors of animals using mouse models."

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.